When a one-in-100-year flood hit Chickamauga in September 2009, "you could not get in and out of Chickamauga. It was just an island surrounded by water," City Manager John Culpepper remembers.
A possible solution would be raising Euclid Road by 3 feet from just south of the Lookout Mountain Community Services building to just south of Lee Street, a distance of about 3,000 feet.
That $320,000 project is identified in a 188-page hazard mitigation plan that a team of 19 city and county officials in Walker County put together to submit to the Georgia and federal emergency management agencies.
The plan needs to be updated every five years and approved by state and federal officials to allow Walker County governments to apply for a wider range of grants, Walker County Coordinator David Ashburn said.
"We've been working on it for more than a year," Ashburn said.
A "reverse 911" emergency notification system that would allow the county and cities to notify residents of tornadoes and other severe weather is likely to be funded with help from the Georgia Emergency Management Authority, Ashburn said. Such a system would be Internet-based and would cost $25,000 to $40,000 a year, the report states.
Countywide warning sirens are unlikely; installing 24 solar-powered outdoor sirens and 24 sirens in large indoor facilities, such as factories, would cost about $800,000, the report states.
Walker County's terrain doesn't lend itself to sirens, Ashburn said. "We're nothing but hills and valleys," he said.
The report tallies the frequency at which natural calamities have struck Walker County during the past 50 years:
• 156 severe thunderstorms, a little more than three per year.
• 39 winter storms, or two per year.
• 15 significant floods, or one every three years.
• nine tornadoes, or one every five years.
• 4,344 wildfires, or 87 per year.
• 248 hazardous materials spills, or five per year.
• Dam failure, none recorded.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.